Thursday, August 25, 2011

Stuffed Strawberries

I've had a serious sweet tooth lately.  Today my husband starts a new night addition to teaching full-time, coaching, serving on various committees, and....oh yes, participating a fantasy-football league.  He's a busy guy!  I figured making him a special treat would be: a.) nice, and b.) a guiltless way of indulging my craving for chocolate.

This dessert is fantastically easy.  I made it frequently in the past, but just the other day realized how easily I could make this recipe fit in with my nutrition goals.  In other words, nix the sugar.  I was pleased to find that I didn't miss it.  If someone had told me that I wouldn't like eating the sugar I was accustomed to eating anymore once I took it out of my diet for a while, I wouldn't have believed them.  But, I have found it to be true.

Cream Cheese Filling:
6 ounces of cream cheese, softened
2 Tb. coconut oil (melted)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 packets of stevia, truvia, or sweetener of your choice
10 drops vanilla creme stevia  (increase or decrease to your taste)
optional: 1 or 2 Tb. vanilla protein powder

Chocolate Drizzle:
1 ounce unsweetend Baker's chocolate
1 Tb. dark chocolate chips

1. Slice the top (leafy green) off the strawberries so you have a flat top.  (I made about 15 strawberries.)
2. Next, slice slivers of strawberries out to form an "X" shape.  However, be careful not to cut down to the bottom and cut the strawberry in half!
3. Blend the cream cheese, coconut oil, vanilla, and stevia until well blended.  Add in your sweetener of choice and protein powder if you're using it.
4. Put the filling in a pastry bag...or use a ziploc with a small hole in it if you can't find yours!...and pipe into the strawberries.
5. Melt the chocolate in your microwave or a double boiler.  Let cool slightly, and then drizzle onto the strawberries.  Pop those babies in the fridge to allow chocolate and filling to harden a bit.  Hide them behind a gallon of milk to protect them from ravenous toddlers.  Serve cool.  (I've also used tiny morsels of pecans, chopped peanuts, and crunch cacao nibs for toppings...but nothing beats really dark chocolate in my opinion.)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Blueberry Baked Steel-Cut Oatmeal (AKA - Blueberry Breakfast CAKE!)


Today, I took a break from our usual Sunday Pancakes and made baked oatmeal instead.  Oats are a grain, so I still try to be careful about my portions so I do not cause a spike in insulin.  Since the whole insulin resistance thing, I've started buying steel-cut oats, also known as Irish or Scottish oats.  Steel cut oats consist of entire whole grain groats, the inner portion of oat kernels, and they're cut into 2 or 3 small pieces.  They are processed less that other types of oats so they retain more fiber and protein.  The glycemic index of steel cut oats is 42, compared to 50 for old-fashioned rolled oats.  (Anything below 50 is considered low glycemic.)

I'd never made baked oatmeal from steel cut oats before, so I based my recipe on a baked steel cut oats recipe from Nourished Kitchen.   The pictures of the oatmeal over at Nourished Kitchen look amazing, however I had to change the recipe to decrease the amount of egg (my husband is allergic) and dried fruit due to the sugar.  Amazingly, my first go at it came out quite good!

Blueberry Baked Steel Cut Oats
2 cups steel cut oats
2 TB apple cider vinegar
2 flax eggs (2 Tb. ground flax meal + 6 Tb. warm water, left to sit and thicken for a few minutes)
1 egg  (If you want, I think you could do a third flax egg instead!)
1/4 cup butter (or substitute coconut oil)
1/4 unsweetened apple sauce
30 drops vanilla stevia
1 heaping Tb. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup blueberries

The night before making the baked oatmeal, place the oats in a dish or Tupperware that has a lid.  Cover the oats with water, apple cider vinegar, and a pinch of salt.  Let them sit on your counter top to soak.

  1. In the morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Then, place a paper towel in your strainer and drain the water from your oats.
  3. While water is draining, melt the butter.  Then mix together the butter, apple sauce, vanilla stevia drops, flax eggs, and regular egg.  
  4. Add the cinnamon, baking powder, and salt.
  5. Stir in drained oats.
  6. Finally, gently mix in the fresh blueberries.  (Or whatever other mix-ins you want to use: almonds, dried cherries or apricots, peaches, etc.)
  7. Grease baking pan with butter.  Add the oat mixture.  Bake for 45 minutes.

Now I wanted to make sure I got some protein along with these oats, so I made an almond butter sauce inspired by this one by Amanda at Running with Spoons.  I made only a few small changes because I wanted it to have a bit more protein and I wanted a bigger batch.  Also, I added more cinnamon, which helps reduce insulin resistance.  So I used:

Vanilla Almond Butter Sauce
1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
5 Tb. unsweetened almond milk
3 heaping Tb. almond butter (no sugar added)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

I mixed the whey protein, almond milk, vanilla extract, and cinnamon in my blender bottle.  (I use Jay Robb protein or Tera's whey, because they are both sweetened with stevia.) Poured it in a bowl, and used a mini whisk to mix in the almond butter until I had a nice creamy sauce.

It wasn't long at all before the dish looked like this!  Though I did manage to put some leftovers in the fridge for easy breakfast on Monday...

The whole batch as I made it had about 240g of carbohydrates, 73g of fat, and 43g of protein.  I figured about 8 generous servings, so each serving has about 30g carbs, 9g fat, and 5.5 g protein.  The vanilla almond butter sauce brings all of these values up, most notably the protein.

Speaking of sauce, I bet these would both be great on this baked oatmeal:
Maple Mystery Butter from Healthful Pursuits
Chocolate Coconut Butter from Heather Eats Almond Butter

I am posting this to Wellness Weekend on Diet, Dessert, and Dogs!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Chicken Broccoli Stir-Fry with Orange Tahini Sauce

Oh my word.  We have just finished up the first week of school.  The first week back to school is always exciting.   I love watching the kids come in with their uniform shirts tucked in securely, toting giant backpacks full of new colored pencils, notebooks, and Kleenex galore...  There's something a bit magical about a fresh start and the promise of many learning adventures.  I know, cheesy.  The first week is also COMPLETELY exhausting.  This seems to be universal among teachers.  We go conk out completely at 8:30pm when we are used to staying up to 10:30pm.  We drink endless vats of coffee and tea, and suck on throat lozenges to soothe our voices, which have forgotten how to talk so much!      

During the school year I usually plan out our dinners for the week on Sunday.  I might switch them around, but it helps me save time and energy when I get home at 4 and I know what I'm going to cook.  One of our meals this week was this stir fry.  A bit of an experiment, but so good.  I used to make stir fry using one of those bottles of thick teriyaki sauce, which tastes delicious but accounts for my allowed sugars for the whole week!  So I've been playing around with sauces for stir fry.  Hubby and I both liked this one quite a bit!

Chicken & Broccoli Stir Fry with Orange Tahini Sauce

Orange Tahini Sauce:
1/4 cup Tahini
1/3 cup low sodium gluten-free soy sauce
3 Tb. fresh squeezed orange juice
1 1/2 Tb. orange zest
1 Tb. organic peanut butter (only ingredient peanuts)
1 Tb. coconut oil (can substitute olive oil or other oil)
2 Tb. plain Greek yogurt 
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp. red curry paste
1/8 tsp. stevia

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, and set aside.

Stir Fry:
2-3 chicken breasts, cubed
2 1/2 cups fresh broccoli
a handful of baby carrots, sliced into strips
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 shallots

Cook chicken in oil (I used coconut oil) until cooked on all sides.  Add a few cloves of garlic and some sliced shallots if you so desire.  Meanwhile, steam veggies for a few minutes.  Add veggies to the pan.  Cook chicken and veggies together until cooked to desired tenderness.  Finally, add the sauce and turn the heat down to low.  Heat until sauce is warmed.  Do not over heat sauce or it will become too pasty and thick.   

Serve with chopped fresh basil and lime wedges for a little Thai flair.  

These leftovers would have been so good to eat for lunch at school...if only we had had leftovers!  Though next time, I think I'd simplify the ingredients.  I don't like cooking with such a long list of ingredients, but I kept adding things to make it sweeter.  No, saltier.  No, smoother.  No, thicker...  Hmm, thinking about it now coconut milk might be good...  

Happy back-to-school if you or your kiddos are returning to the land of academics!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Chocolate Mint Protein Shake and a Day of Food

I have had a few people ask me to post what I would eat during the course of a day in accordance with my nutrition plan.  What is healthy and tasty to me may very well not be in your case, so obviously keep your own dietary needs in mind!  So here's my day in food...

Breakfast:  Chocolate Mint Protein Smoothie

I like my breakfast to taste like dessert.  I don't know why it took me until I had no fresh fruit or berries to make this shake, but it is my new favorite.  (I make a smoothie for breakfast nearly every day.)   Without toppings the whole batch is only 25grams of carbs, but packed with protein and good fats that last me until lunch.  Here is the recipe, which serves two.  

1 cup whole-fat greek yogurt (I've also used regular whole yogurt.) - 7g carbs (And 18g protein!)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk - 2g carbs
2 scoops chocolate protein powder - 2g carbs
2 Tb unsweetened cocoa powder - 6g carbs
1 tsp peppermint extract - no significant nutritional value if using alcohol-based extract
2 cups of....spinach! (You don't taste it, I swear!) - ~2g carbs
2 Tb flax seed meal - 6g carbs
A few fresh mint leaves (optional, but I had 'em, so why not?)
Ice - I use about 12-15 cubes

Optional Garnish: unsweetened or very dark chocolate and mint leaves.

Put it all in a blender and blend away!  Yum.  If you want to make it dairy-free you could nix the yogurt and add a tablespoon of melted coconut oil to keep a fat content that will tide you over until your next meal, or use avocado or banana as a base.

Lunch: Sandwich and Salad  
Half sandwich on Ezekiel Bread with American Cheese, Turkey, Salami, Lettuce, Tomato, and mustard.  Small spinach salad with homemade balsamic rosemary salad dressing.

Snack: Cheese, Seeds, & Fruit
A cheese stick, a handful of sunflower seeds, and half of a peach sliced.

Dinner: Mustard and Herb Glazed Salmon with Sauteed Spinach and Caprese Salad
This was a "last supper" of sorts for us...  My hubby and I are both teachers and we are back to school tomorrow!  I picked up this wild-caught salmon at the store at a fantastic price.  (Farm-raised salmon has more toxins than wild-caught, which tends to be much more expensive.)  I know I have read somewhere that the Omega-3s in salmon can aid in reducing insulin resistance.  Whether that's true or not, I will continue to eat it, because it is delicious!  I baked the salmon with a mustard and fresh herb glaze, sauteed spinach with some shallots and garlic, and made a quick caprese salad with basil and tomato from our garden.

Ok, confession. I went a teeny bit above my 15 carbs after dinner when I had a few squares of Lindt 90% chocolate after dinner.  I've always like dark chocolate but now that I've cut out most of the sugar from my diet I like really, really dark chocolate.  I was walking my dog while I ate it, so I must have exercised some of those carbs away, right?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Hitting the Trails (& Trail Mix!)

My favorite adventures from our vacation in Tennessee were the hiking trips we took.  Nothing too extreme...we were in an entourage that consisted of multiple toddlers...but so fun, beautiful, and free!  And you can't go hiking without some kind of trail mix.  I made a big batch of trail mix for all.  It's hard to find trail mixes that don't have too much sugar in the form of dried fruit or chocolate.  So here's my basic recipe.  Add in whatever you want!

Trail Mix Ingredients:
1 cup pecans
2 cups mixed nuts
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup almond meal
2 Tb. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. stevia
1/4 cup agave (optional)

1. Put the peanut butter and almond butter in a bowl and microwave for about 20 seconds to slightly melt.  
2. Stir in the cinnamon, stevia, and agave if you are using it.  (Most of my friends are used to food tasting a bit more sweet so I did use it for this batch.)  Next, mix in the almond meal until you have a nice thick paste.
3. In a large bowl, mix the seeds and nuts.  Then, pour in the nut butter mixture and coat.
4. Spread the trail mix out on a baking sheet.  (I put parchment paper underneath for easy clean-up.)  
5. Sprinkle additional cinnamon on top.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.
7. Allow to cool, and enjoy!

Optional add-ins: dried cherries, raisins, dark chocolate chips, carob chips, dried apricots, etc...

Where is your favorite place to hike?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Vacation.  Ahhh.  We drove our good old Jeep down to Tennessee for a last hurrah before back to school.  I love driving as the rest of my family peaceful.  We've been having fun swimming, relaxing, playing cards, and hiking.  I'm getting lots of exercise and sleeping well!  Vacation can be tricky when you're trying to eat well, but fortunately we are staying in places with kitchens, so I can stock up on greek yogurt for morning smoothies, spinach, veggies, and deli meat for lunch, and good snacks.  I made some yummy protein bars (a recipe I'm still perfecting!) and some trail mix for the road and to take on hikes.  I know I won't be able to stick exactly to "the plan" the entire time...and I'm okay with that.  Posting will be light for a while, and then I hope to share more recipes with you and maybe a few days of what I eat to follow my nutrition plan.